|Central coordinates||143o 17.29' East 13o 11.23' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A3|
|Altitude||0 - 824m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2008|
Summary Iron and McIlwraith Ranges IBA is one of the few known localities for the endangered Buff-breasted Button-quail. It supports an isolated population of the vulnerable Southern Cassowary, and populations of another three Cape York restricted-range species and four biome-restricted species.
Ornithological information The ornithological fauna is a unique combination of New Guinean and Australian elements not found elsewhere on the Australian continent. As well as species of global conservation concern and assemblages of restricted-range species this area is also important for a number of species which occur in both New Guinea and Australia, but whose distributions in Australia are restricted to Cape York Peninsula. These include Palm Cockatoo, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Red-bellied Pitta, Trumpet Manucode, Magnificent Riflebird, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Yellow-legged Flycatcher; Tropical Scrub-wren and Frill-necked Monarch are sometimes considered full species endemic to Cape York. The southern end of the Mcllwraith Range represents the southern limit of the Australian distribution for a number of these species. Notable species which are rarely encountered within the IBA include the near threatened Australian Bustard, Bush Stone-curlew and Black-throated Finch, the restricted-range Green Catbird and Pied Monarch and the Australian Tropical Savanna biome-restricted White-gaped Honeyeater (Atlas of Australian Birds database). Graceful Honeyeaters are common in the ranges (S. Garnett and A. Freeman pers. obs).
Site description The Iron and McIlwraith Ranges are the most northerly extent of the Great Dividing Range, located in the north of the Cape York Peninsula, 750 km north of Cairns. The boundary of the IBA was drawn to encompass most of the area of closed forest in the region as well as significant areas of heathland vegetation suitable for White-streaked Honeyeater. This includes the Iron Range National Park, Iron Range Resources Reserve and the forested part of the Mungkan Kundju National Park. A range of other tenures is present within the area including aboriginal freehold and leasehold land. Much of the area has very poor sandy soils formed from eroded granite, which only support stunted heath which dominates this area. Richer soils produced by older, more easily eroded metamorphic rocks support lush rainforests, found to the east below the escarpment. The Iron and McIlwraith Ranges support the largest area of tropical rainforest on Cape York Peninsula which has close affinities with New Guinea. While many species found at Iron Range occur nowhere else in Australia, all these also occur in much larger numbers in New Guinea.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Southern Cassowary Casuarius casuarius||resident||1998-2008||rare [units unknown]||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Buff-breasted Buttonquail Turnix olivii||unknown||-||rare [units unknown]||-||A1, A2, A3||Endangered|
|Lovely Fairywren Malurus amabilis||resident||1998-2008||common [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Yellow Honeyeater Lichenostomus flavus||resident||1998-2008||uncommon [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Yellow-spotted Honeyeater Meliphaga notata||resident||1998-2008||abundant [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Silver-crowned Friarbird Philemon argenticeps||resident||1998-2008||uncommon [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|White-streaked Honeyeater Trichodere cockerelli||resident||1998-2008||frequent [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Banded Honeyeater Certhionyx pectoralis||unknown||1998-2008||rare [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Buff-sided Robin Poecilodryas cerviniventris||resident||1998-2008||uncommon [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Far Northern||Marine Park||1,393,656||protected area overlaps with site||229|
|Great Barrier Reef||Marine Park||34,440,000||protected area overlaps with site||229|
|Iron Range||National Park||47,090||protected area contained by site||47,100|
|Iron Range||Resource Reserve||8,670||protected area contained by site||8,670|
|Mungkan Kandju||National Park||456,000||protected area overlaps with site||14,161|
|Silver Plains||Fish Habitat Area A||12,665||protected area overlaps with site||895|
|Temple Bay||Fish Habitat Area A||3,930||protected area overlaps with site||181|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Forest||Eucalypt open forests; Eucalypt woodlands; Melaleuca forests & woodlands; Rainforest & vine thickets||major|
Land ownership Most of the area is currently under indigenous ownership but there is also a small amount of other freehold and the National Parks are co-managed with QPWS.
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|Notes: Traditional Use|
|nature conservation and research||major|
|Notes: Traditional Use|
Other biodiversity Iron and McIlwraith Ranges is significant for a number of species that mainly occur in New Guinea. Some examples include the cuscus Phalanger intercastellanus and Spilocuscus maculatus, the rufous spiny bandicoot Echymipera rufescens. The area also encompasses the entire known Australian distribution of the snake Morelia viridus. Cape York endemic species that are entirely confined to this area include the marsupial Antechinus leo, the varanid Varanus keithhorni and the frogs Cophixalus crepitans, C. peninsularis and Litoria longirostris. The Iron Range area is also the site of a closed tussock grassland ecosystem that is currently considered endangered (Sattler and Williams, 1999).
Management considerations Monitor any exploration and proposals to mine in the Iron Range area. Measure and manage the ongoing degradation from feral animals and weeds, which is currently not managed outside of small areas within the National Parks.
Protection status The IBA overlaps with seven protected areas, two of which (Iron Range National Park and Iron Range Resources Reserve) are wholly contained within the IBA.
Conservation response Currently zoological researchers from the Australian National University have a significant presence in the area and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service have an ongoing monitoring program for L. longirostris in the McIllwaith Range.
Acknowledgements The nomination was prepared by Alastair Freeman.
References Barrett, G., Silcocks, A., Cunningham, R. and Poulter, R. (2003) The new atlas of Australian birds. Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union: Melbourne.
Blakers, M., Davies, S.J.J.F., and Reilly, P.N. (1984). 'The atlas of Australian birds'. (Melbourne University Press: Melbourne.)
Fox, I.D., Neldner, V.J., Wilson, G.W., Bannick, P.J., Wilson, B.A., Brocklehurst, P.S., Clark, M.J., Dickinson, K.J.M., Beard, J.S., Hopkins, A.J.M., Beeston, G.R., Harvey, J.M., Thompson, E.J., Ryan, T.S., Thompson, S.L., Butler, D.W., Cartan,H., Addicot, E.P., Bailey, L.P., Cumming, R.J., Johnson D.C., Schmeider, M., Stephens, K.M., and Bean, A.R. 2001. The vegetation of the Australian tropical savannas. Queensland Herbarium, Environmental protection Agency, Queensland.
Garnett, S, and Crowely, G. (2000). 'The action plan for Australian birds'. (Environment Australia: Canberra.)
Leung, L., Venables B. and Pritchard, J. (1994). Terrestrial vertebrate fauna survey of the Iron Range area Cape York Peninsula 1993-1994. Unpublished report prepared for the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage, Cairns.
Mathieson, M.T. and Smith, G.C., 2007. National recovery plan for the buff-breasted button-quail Turnix olivii. Report to Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane.
Moore, L.A. (2007) Population ecology of the southern cassowary Casuarius casuarius johnsonii, Mission Beach north Queensland. Journal of Ornithology 148: 357-366.
Neldner, V.J. and Clarkson, J. (1996). Broad vegegtation groups of Cape york Peninsula.A map prepared for the Queensland Herbarium and Department of Environment.
Sattler, P. and Williams, R. (1999). The conservation status of Queensland's bioregional ecosystems. (Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane).
Winter, J.W. (1980). McIllwraith Range closed forest fauna survey. Final report (outline) compiled for ANPWS. Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane.
Winter, J.W. and Lethbridge, P.J. (1994). Terrestrial vertebrate fauna, report on field survey sub project (NR 03) of Cape York Peninsula Land Use Strategy (CYPLUS). Natural Resource Analysis Program, prepared on behalf of the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage.
Contribute Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.
Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Iron and McIlwraith Ranges. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/05/2013
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife